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politics and government of
the Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature is the territorial legislature of the U.S. commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The legislative branch of the territory is bicameral, consisting of a 20-member lower House of Representatives, and an upper house Senate with nine Senators. Representatives serve two-year terms and Senators serve four-year terms, both without term limits. The territorial legislature meets in the commonwealth capital of Saipan.
Similar to the United States Congress, the Senate seats are divided into three districts (three seats each) whose boundaries are identical to those of the municipalities (except that the barely inhabited Northern Islands is incorporated with Saipan). The Constitution provides for the creation of a fourth district for the Northern Islands when the population exceeds 1,000.The Senate seats are divided into two classes, similar to the classes of Senators in the United States, with one class consisting of a single Senator from each district, and the second class consisting of two Senators from each district. In the first election after the ratification of the Constitution, the Senator with the third-highest number of votes held their seat for two years. Requirements for Senator are a minimum age of 25, residence in the Commonwealth for five years, and a registered voter in the district represented. The Constitution permits a higher residence requirement to be legislated.
The House seats are elected from seven districts. Two districts have one seat each, one for Rota and the other for Tinian and Aguiguan. The remaining five districts elect multiple members, three with two members, and two with six members, and are all located on Saipan, with one also including the Northern Islands. The Constitution provides for the Northern Islands to be a separate district when the population exceeds the number of people represented by any Representative.Reapportionment occurs every 10 years following the census. Requirements for Representative are a minimum age of 21, residence in the Commonwealth for three years, and a registered voter in the district represented. As with the Senate, the Constitution permits the Legislature to enact a higher residence requirement.
The Legislature also has a youth congress, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Youth Congress.
The modern legislature was created under Secretarial Order No. 2989 by federal Interior Secretary Thomas S. Kleppe effective April 1, 1976, replacing the less autonomous Mariana Islands District Legislature. The cabinet-level order reorganized local government in the commonwealth to reflect its greater self-government, which had established a political union with the United States in the previous year under a public plebiscite.
The Commonwealth was officially established in January 1978, and as the constitution prescribed, the first House of Representatives had 14 members (12 from Saipan). Over the years, as permitted by the constitution, House membership was increased to 20 (18 from Saipan) beginning with the 16th Legislature in 2008, the Constitutional maximum.
The Northern Mariana Islands' election calendar was one of the few political divisions in the United States where general elections were held in odd-numbered years (along with Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia). After a non-voting delegate position was created in the United States Congress for the NMI in January 2009 and its election held in November 2008, a referendum was approved in the 2009 elections changing elections to even-numbered years by delaying the 2011 elections and lengthened all political terms by one year.
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|Source: Commonwealth Elections Commission|
Politics of the Northern Mariana Islands takes place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic system, whereby the Governor is head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. The Northern Mariana Islands are a commonwealth in political union with the United States. Executive power is exercised by the governor. Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the legislature. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Local government is carried out through three regional mayors.
Article One of the United States Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government, the United States Congress. Under Article One, Congress is a bicameral legislature consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Article One grants Congress various enumerated powers and the ability to pass laws "necessary and proper" to carry out those powers. Article One also establishes the procedures for passing a bill and places various limits on the powers of Congress and the states.
The 1st United States Congress, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, met from March 4, 1789, to March 4, 1791, during the first two years of George Washington's presidency, first at Federal Hall in New York City and later at Congress Hall in Philadelphia. With the initial meeting of the First Congress, the United States federal government officially began operations under the new frame of government established by the 1787 Constitution. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the provisions of Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution. Both chambers had a Pro-Administration majority. Twelve articles of amendment to the Constitution were passed by this Congress and sent to the states for ratification; the ten ratified as additions to the Constitution on December 15, 1791, are collectively known as the Bill of Rights.
Commonwealth is a term used by two unincorporated territories of the United States in their full official names. The territories are: the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.
Juan Nekai Babauta is a Northern Mariana Islander politician. Babauta served as the sixth Governor of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands for one term from January 14, 2002 to January 9, 2006.
Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives are representatives of their territory in the House of Representatives, who do not have a right to vote on proposed legislation in the full House but nevertheless have floor privileges and are able to participate in certain other House functions. Non-voting members may vote in a House committee of which they are a member and introduce legislation. There are currently six non-voting members: a delegate representing the District of Columbia, a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, and one delegate for each of the other four permanently inhabited US territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. A seventh delegate, representing the Cherokee Nation, has been formally proposed but not yet seated, while an eighth, representing the Choctaw Nation, is named in a treaty but has neither been proposed nor seated. As with voting members, non-voting delegates are elected every two years, and the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico is elected every four years.
The CNMI Democratic Party is a political party in the Northern Mariana Islands. It is now officially affiliated with the United States' national Democratic Party.
The CNMI Republican Party is a political party in the Northern Mariana Islands. The Northern Mariana Islands Republican Party is now associated with the United States Republican Party though no Northern Mariana Islands politicians have achieved high-ranking positions in the mainland United States.
Benjamin Taisacan Manglona was a politician and civil engineer in the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). He is the CNMI's longest serving elected official having served as a congressman, senator, and former mayor of Rota. Manglona served as the third Lieutenant Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands from 1990 to 1994 and as Mayor of Rota from 1998 to 2006.
The Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives is the lower house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature.
The Northern Mariana Islands Senate is the upper house of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Legislature. The Senate consists of nine senators representing three senatorial districts, each a multi-member constituency with three senators.
The United States House of Representatives election in the Northern Mariana Islands, 2008 took place on November 4, 2008 and was the Northern Mariana Islands' first election of a delegate to the United States House of Representatives. Since the CNMI traditionally had general elections in odd-numbered years, the November 2008 ballot contained only this office.
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan is a Northern Mariana Islander politician and former election commissioner. Elected in 2008, Sablan became the first delegate to the United States House of Representatives from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
General elections were held in the Northern Mariana Islands on 7 November 2009, electing the Governor, the Legislature, four mayors, the Board of Education and nine municipal council members. There were also four referendums.
General elections were held in the Northern Mariana Islands on November 4, 2014. Voters elected the Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, the Delegate to the US Congress, the Senate, the House of Representatives, mayors, municipal councils and the Board of Education. Additionally, a referendum involving changes to the constitution was held.
The 2018 United States House of Representatives election in the Northern Mariana Islands was held on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, to elect the territory's Delegate to the United States House of Representatives in the 116th United States Congress. Delegate Gregorio Sablan was re-elected to his sixth term as Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Northern Mariana Islands' at-large district.
Janet Ulloa Maratita is a politician from the Northern Mariana Islands. She represents District No. 1 in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives, of which she currently serves as Vice-Speaker. She chairs the Committee on Health and Welfare for the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation, and is vice-chair of the Health Committee; she is also a member of the Ways and Means Committee. She is currently a member of the Republican Party. Maratita was appointed to the 17th Legislature in 2011, replacing Diego Benavente; she had previously served in the House in the 14th Legislature. At the time an independent, she sat alongside Felicidad Ogumoro and Teresita Santos, marking the first time three women were simultaneously members of the body. In 2014 she declared her intent to run for a seat in the Northern Mariana Islands Senate in the election of 2014. Returned once more to the House of Representatives in 2016, she was elected Vice-Speaker when positions were meted out. Earlier in her political career Maratita gained attention for leading a lawsuit against then-governor Benigno Fitial, later co-authoring one of the two resolutions passed by the House calling for his impeachment. She later claimed that Senator Juan Ayuyu had repeatedly threatened her life in a telephone conversation regarding the lawsuit.
Teresita Santos is a politician from the Northern Mariana Islands. Formerly a member of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives, she currently serves as a member of the Northern Mariana Islands Senate.
Luis John Deleon Guerrero Castro is a Chamorro-American politician and a current member of the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature. A former member of youth government in the early 2000s, he entered the civic arena by winning a seat in the local municipal government.
Parliamentary elections were held in the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands on 5 November 1974. Carmen Bigler became the first female member of Congress after being elected to House of Representatives from the Fifth District of the Marshall Islands.